Archives for category: Process

This piece, “Gothic Fluke” was another one of those pieces that languished in my studio for years. While working on a new Foundling I wondered what the brackets (to the left and right of the fish bones) would look like on this old, unfinished work. To my surprise, the piece just “woke up”. It came alive. All it needed now was a frame.

I had purchased four of these brackets a couple of years ago at the Brimfield Antique Fair. I had tried to use them with several other pieces and yet, as beautiful as they are, they just didn’t work. You also might recognize them as they were tried on Satori V, in another post. This didn’t work out either, but now, just like that, I am using these brackets on two Foundlings.

I do wish I had a better understanding of my creative process. I know that I am creative and I know that I am able to conjure up this creativity on an almost “as needed” basis,
but I do wonder if a new element “wakes up” a piece or if a new ingredient just opens
my eyes. In the end, it doesn’t matter. It only matters that I am pleased with the creation of a new Foundling.

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I am still so moved by circular designs. What is it about a circle that is both so perfect and yet so humble? In nature, circles are everywhere but a perfect circle in nature is really rather rare. Things can be round but there are almost always imperfections. A perfect circle has a beautiful coldness to it, but the circles found in nature, a hand drawn circle, or the round pieces that I use are bent, dented, or slightly “off”. They have that beautiful circle quality while having a human character that is so much warmer.

I can struggle to make things perfectly circular, or straight, for that matter, when I realize that perfection is more of an ideal. As I have written in the past, it’s a goal in which to aim for but never achieve. In fact, that is where the beauty lies—in that space between the imperfect and the perfect.

I had an art teacher who once said that the difference between a perfect circle and how you draw it is called style.

EasternWisdom_72dpiRGB_IMG_8288I have been working on this piece for quite some time now. It has been a largely frustrating process with lots of fits and starts. I just can’t seem to get this Foundling to be born so I have set out in a new direction, again. I have found a section of a beautiful nautilus shell that inspired me. When I set it on top of a decorative plate I created, unintentionally, a yin yang sign. Simple in execution and beautiful in design, and yet, the overall piece is still missing something.

As I have often said, some pieces practically jump off the workbench in days and other languish for years. Sometimes, after abandoning a piece, I might come across  a new fragment and in an instant, the stubborn piece comes together. It’s a wonderful moment. Other times, it’s just a matter of waiting and trying again later on.

It’s a kind of intuition. A kind of understanding. Working or waiting, stopping or starting. That’s the wisdom of being creative.

Number_2_front_72dpiRGBI have such mixed feelings about social media. On one hand I get that people are no longer limited on how to get public attention. Everyone now has a platform to speak their mind, show their work or seek like-minded people.

On the other hand, this public platform seems more like opening a window onto a crowded street and yelling. Sure people hear you but after awhile, don’t we all just tune all of this out?

That said, I do my part and post an Instagram every few weeks and I do have a monthly Foundling e-mail. Just like a website, it’s less about communicating with the world but more about having a place online. A place that should someone try to find me, they can (if you are reading this then you have already found me). Like most artists I don’t get very excited about posting, but I do it… but I would rather be working on my art.

I have to say that perhaps I should be more open minded about these platforms. I have sold four pieces, including the one above, in the last three months through my email blasts. It’s actually rather humbling as it’s so easy to think that I toil on these Foundlings alone and send out e-mails as if they were a message in a bottle—not likely to be answered. Seems like some of my calls have been answered.

InProgress_LowRes_IMG_8040_2The wait is almost over. This piece, changing over and over, stopping and starting for over a month is finally on the “right” track.

The trick now is to make sure I can build this. The attachment points are mostly understood but invariably, “problems” will still arise and they will have to be worked out, one by one.

I landed on a “dot pattern” motif from the wooden die holder, to the beautiful chicken feathers, to the dot pattern on the decorative brass molding.

I do love using tintypes but I need to be careful. Although they add a kind of nostalgia, these images are very powerful elements that can take attention away from the overall piece. Also, in trying not to be too derivative of Joseph Cornell, I tend to stay away from collage or other photographic elements. The brass flower in combination with the tintype makes for a kind of memorial, not unlike a piece I did years ago called “In Memory”.

Perhaps I will call this “In Memory II”.

 

I used to sketch with a number 2 pencil. There was something about how direct the process was. Hold a pencil, make a mark. There was little thought as to what medium I would finally use or what color I would use if the sketch became a full color drawing or painting.

When making these pieces I am, in a way, still making a “sketch” but the process is not as direct. It’s difficult not to think of attachment points, the materials used or just how fragile a work might be.

Also, when I am sketching, the process is quick. Speed is critical to getting a kind of spontaneity into the drawing. With these assemblages the process is much slower. Place a few items together and wait. Place a few more items together, wait a bit more. This makes it so much more difficult to keep that spontaneity alive. I don’t know if the above “sketch” with be born so I will wait.

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I found a beautiful set of nesting cookie cutters in a small antique store. It sat around in my shop for months… perhaps longer. There was something about the way it reminded me of a flower or of a kind of celestial star system that made it so precious. I waited until I had the perfect setting for it. I did have a little box and thought all it needed was a detail, a counterpoint of sorts, to break up the form. Adding a couple of old drawer pulls would finish this work. It was supposed to complete the piece and yet, somehow I found myself waiting. And waiting. Somehow it didn’t feel complete.

When I think about the creative process I realize that I am following a path that has no direction, no signposts, and no guide. The only way to know that I have found my destination is when I arrive. In time this destination may be satisfying and at other times, I realize that the destination was only a rest stop. That I needed to push on.

A piece of a decorative gas lamp part lived in my studio for years. Delicate, a bit bent and certainly unloved, was another one of those purchases that said that perhaps I was mistaken to have acquired it (not unlike the huge steer horn cutter that still sits in a corner of my shop).

Attaching the lamp part to the cookie cutter suddenly breathed a new life into this sleeping Foundling. I had arrived at my destination. It suddenly felt complete. It was now a Foundling. The wait was just part of the process. I am very pleased with this little work. Now if only I could come up with a better name.

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Some pieces come together rather quickly. Others, do not. Satori V languished in my studio for months (left image). I had found these beautiful brass brackets but I just couldn’t figure out how to attach them. I thought they were integrated well enough into the work but I wasn’t sure. I was just so hypnotised by these beautiful bass brackets. So it sat, waiting, as I went on to create other Foundlings. I had hoped that returning to the Brimfield Antique Fair that I would find something to help me attach these brackets but I couldn’t find anything suitable.

I did, however, find a beautiful circular frame, broken and a bit unloved at the Fair. Almost as a afterthought I wondered if the frame would fit into this piece. Once placed, it immediately felt at home completing Satori V (right image). It does obscure the brass dish and lamp part underneath it a bit but this is not unlike my drawing work.

When I drew I tended to use a lot of layers of colors. I would build up layer upon layer with each new color obscuring the layer beneath. With enough layers, a little bit of each layer does come through creating a beautiful texture. So too with all of the brass layers, the beautiful textures shine through.

And the blue tape? I have learned to mark the tops of all of the pieces so I have the correct orientation for placement. Another hard lesson learned.Satori V IMG_7943 Combo LoRes

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I have fallen in love with green. It was easy to see how beautiful brass, bronze and gold work with the dark wood but green has slowly revealed itself to be such a lovely addition to my color palette. Green, almost hiding in plain sight, is such an obvious color choice—just look at the beauty of trees.

Verdigris III is still in the very early “fitting” stage and it appears to want to come together quickly as the parts seem to fit easily together. And the “engineering” part seems pretty straight forward as well.

There is a small problem, however. The frames I have, all standard, stock sizes, do not fit the sundial. The box could always be notched into the frame if there is overlap but the opening of the circular frame as well as the inset behind the opening, have to be enlarged. Not knowing much about turning wood I had thought that I would need a custom frame made. My friend Dave comes to the rescue once again. He has a lathe and has been turning beautiful objects for a while now. I sent him images of the pieces and he thinks he can widen both the inside opening and the inset.

My thinking is always, if a piece wants to be born it will. Dave will be able to do this, or he won’t. If this doesn’t happen then I will have to move on. My fingers are crossed.

I had a feeling that this one was going to be a challenge. I am overbuilding the box to make sure the whole piece can support the weight of the swans. It’s really solid, so structurally I am confident of its integrity.

The next task is to make sure that the swans, made of a metal called “white metal” or “pot metal”, are mounted in a way to hold their weight. I have drilled into the back of each swan so a bolt can go through to the pegboard (see below). So far, so good.

Then I drilled through the top of each swan so I can bolt the swans together. That’s where the problem became clear. The metal is so thin, on the top part of the swan, that the areas are starting to tear (also see below).

I decided to use a heavy duty, contractor’s adhesive on the inside top of the swans to reinforce them. This will need some practice runs with the new adhesive to make sure I have enough time to get it all together before the putty sets. I will use some of the adhesive on the tops of the pegs to help keep the swans from twisting as well. The thinking is that the more glue I can use to keep this piece together, in addition to the mechanical fasteners, the better. I have even decided to cut down the pegs behind the swans so they seat lower within the field of pegs. This should also help support the weight. We shall see…

The process is difficult but in the end, the piece is worth it.

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